Home and Community
Recognizing that a baby’s family is central to advancing development, our team partners with you to share ways you can incorporate language, speaking, and communication into your typical daily routines. Your child’s individualized early intervention plan is guided by the information we gather from you and your baby during our evaluations, assessments, and ongoing intervention sessions.
Evaluations and Assessments
The Sound Start Babies Program, a uniquely qualified specialty team with expertise in identifying the needs of infants and toddlers with hearing loss and their families, provides comprehensive evaluations and assessments. This specialty targeted evaluation team, one of only a few approved by the NJ Early Intervention System, uses its expertise to connect babies with hearing loss and their families to appropriate ongoing early intervention services. Using the information gathered from the evaluation and assessment processes, our team works with your family to develop an effective plan of ongoing early intervention services tailored to address your child’s individual strengths and needs and your family’s priorities.
All children with hearing loss are eligible for early intervention services. The process begins with an initial evaluation conducted by two professionals from different specialty backgrounds. The Sound Start Babies evaluation team acknowledges that caregivers are the experts on their children and seeks to understand the family’s concerns and priorities for their child’s development. Partnering with your family, our team looks at your child’s development in several different areas using both observation and evaluation tools designed for very young children. Should a more in depth look at an area of development be needed, an assessment by an expert in that area is then made available (e.g. communication, gross motor, and fine motor). The Sound Start Babies Program is often asked by New Jersey Early Intervention to conduct a Hearing Assessment when a specialized evaluation team is not available or when a child’s hearing loss is discovered after early intervention services have begun.
Educational and Therapy Services
The Sound Start Babies Team, including Teachers of the Deaf, speech/language pathologists, audiologist, and occupational and physical therapists, brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to work with your family and your child with hearing loss. The team members meet the rigorous standards of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing and have participated in ongoing professional training to keep abreast of the latest research in working with young children with hearing loss. The frequency of visits and the type of specialist you will work with is determined by you and your child’s specific needs. The team has qualified providers of the Listening and Spoken Language approach and the Total Communication approach. The Sound Start Babies Audiologist is available to counsel families as they navigate the diagnostic process and obtain appropriate assistive listening technology. Should your child have additional developmental needs our qualified occupational and physical therapists work closely with their team colleagues to provide continuity of thoughtful coordinated care for your child.
Our team of professionals began to use teleintervention services as part of a pilot project for the NJ Early Intervention System five years ago and since that early beginning has developed a range of strategies to successfully provide quality services to families using this technology.
Teleintervention services include early intervention sessions with members of our multidisciplinary team. Both Listening and Spoken Language and Total Communication are provided using this modality. There are opportunities for working with the audiologist to understand the nature of your child’s hearing loss and manage various hearing devices. Family training, sign language education, and parent education regarding management of the home language environment using LENA technology are all available using this versatile format. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that this form of service delivery is as effective as home visits for attaining positive language and speech outcomes for the child with hearing loss. Our experience has shown that teleintervention has helped to overcome a number of barriers to receiving consistent early intervention.
Families report that teleintervention provides additional benefits such as including extended family members in their early intervention sessions and not having to miss sessions because of extenuating circumstances such as bad weather, a sick child at home, travel distance and scheduling conflicts. We welcome inquiries about how our teleintervention program may be of benefit to you.
Community & Childcare Support
For families whose babies with hearing loss attend community-based or in-home childcare programs, Sound Start Babies can provide services in these natural environments. Our practitioners partner with the child’s daycare providers to train them regarding: care, use, and troubleshooting of the child’s hearing technology, conducting daily listening checks, optimizing the acoustic environment, implementing best practice strategies for supporting communication development in young children with hearing loss, and incorporating sensory motor strategies in the classroom (as applicable). Group in-services for daycare staff are also offered.
Grant funding has allowed the Sound Start Babies Program to purchase Phonak Roger Soundfield FM Systems, which are loaned to childcare programs under the guidance of our pediatric audiologist. This remote microphone technology improves the signal to noise ratio in a classroom, appropriately amplifying the caregiver’s voice over background noise and giving a child with hearing loss optimal auditory access to the caregiver’s language models.
Sound Start Babies Program offers families an opportunity to ensure that their home listening environment is optimal through the use of our LENA (Language Environment Analysis) technology. The LENA system includes a specialized digital language processor (DLP) worn in the pocket of your child’s LENA t-shirt. The DLP collects and analyzes audio data such as how many words your child hears each day, how many words or sounds your child uses, and how many conversational exchanges occur. Research has shown that your baby needs to hear 30,000 words (not from TV or radio) each day for optimal development. The back-and-forth verbal interactions you have with your child are the most important and this technology is able to capture them.
In addition, LENA technology identifies background noise that may be impeding your child’s listening experience. Based on information drawn from LENA, we provide individualized suggestions and strategies, using COMPASS, our family coaching program. LENA technology is another way that Sound Start Babies ensures your baby has the best opportunities to learn, listen and speak.
The use of LENA technology is just one way the Sound Start Babies Program goes above and beyond standard early intervention for babies with hearing loss. Parents value the new perspective that this technology can provide. “The LENA Compass project has definitely helped us in many ways. It has promoted positive efforts in our daily lives even when it was not being recorded.” – Sound Start Babies Program Parent
LENA assessment and consultation is also available to families who are not enrolled in Sound Start Babies Program. Please contact Kayley Mayer for further information.